Archive for May, 2011

Going dark.

Posted: May 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

Well, friends, it’s time to take a break.

While publishing Spaces for People, I’ve discovered three truths.

Truth Number One:  

The factors that determine the success of public spaces are complex.  It’s not just design.  I do believe design can enhance the experience, but if the demographic, geographic, or economic context is not there to feed the public space, odds are the park will just be another drive-by garden.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but spaces that attract people are much more important to the vitality of a city.  And it’s all intertwined with the need for critical urban planning.  You know, big picture stuff.

Truth Number Two:

In West Virginia, planning public spaces — and urban planning in general — is different than planning in mega-cities such as New York and Chicago.  Our capital city of Charleston barely has 50,000 people.  It’s simply a different dynamic.  Some of the design principles are the same but with small towns there are clear differences in the effectiveness of urban planning strategies.

Truth Number Three:

There are far fewer really good public spaces in West Virginia than I had imagined.  There are pretty parks and many special event venues, but the public spaces and urban parks that attract people on a daily basis are few.  If you think I’ve missed one, let me know.  I would be very pleased to learn that I’ve overlooked a special place.

Bonus Truth:

Learning is a lifelong journey.  In the past year and a half I’ve learned from people far from the mountains of West Virginia.  I’ve posed many questions through LinkedIn discussion groups and it still amazes me when I receive thoughtful and insightful comments from professionals from around the world.  Add that to the great questions from my West Virginia friends and colleagues and it becomes an intellectual jam fest.

So now I need time to think about all of this.  It’s time to go dark.  Spaces for People will be silent for now, but before the year is out, I’ll be back with a fresh perspective and a new look.  Until then, find a fun place to hang out and enjoy the summer.